- Gloria Vanderbilt, the heiress fashion designer, has died at the age of 95.
- Vanderbilt’s son, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, revealed the news to his network Monday morning.
Gloria Vanderbilt has died at the age of 95.
The heiress’ son, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, broke the news to his network on Monday morning. He said that earlier this month, they learned Vanderbilt had “very advanced cancer” in her stomach. Cooper said she was at peace with the news.
“Well it’s like that old song: ‘Show me the way to get out of this world because that’s where everything is.'” Cooper recalled his mother saying.
Gloria Vanderbilt died this morning, according to her son, CNN's Anderson Cooper.
— CNN (@CNN) June 17, 2019
In a statement to the network, Cooper said his mother died Monday morning at her home, surrounded by family and friends.
“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms,” Cooper said. “She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend. She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they’d tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern.”
- Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Vanderbilt was born on February 20, 1924, the daughter of railroad heir Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and his second wife Gloria Morgan.
Her father died just 18 months after she was born, leaving her and her half-sister heiresses to a $5 million trust.
When she was just 10 years old, her aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney sued for custody, calling Vanderbilt’s mother unfit. The custody battle would be dubbed the “trial of the century.” In the end, the court awarded Whitney full custody of her niece, who barely knew her.
An illustrious love life
As a young woman, Vanderbilt was connected to several rich and famous men including Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes, and Frank Sinatra.
At the age of 17, she married the first of her four husbands: Hollywood agent Pat DiCicco. The marriage only lasted four years, and before it was over, she had met the man that would be her second husband – conductor Leopold Stokowski. The May-December couple wed in 1945, when Vanderbilt was 21 and her groom was 63. They went on to have two sons together, Stanely and Christopher.
That marriage dissolved after a decade and Vanderbilt went on to marry director Sidney Lumet, and finally, writer Wyatt Cooper. With Cooper she had sons Carter and Anderson. What she described as her “only happy marriage” ended in 1978 when Cooper died during open-heart surgery. A decade later, Vanderbilt suffered a second tragedy when she witnessed their son Carter commit suicide.
In her life, Vanderbilt was an artist, a stage and TV actress, and a writer, but she is perhaps best known for starting Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans.
In a 2016 interview with People, Vanderbilt said she was designing blouses for Mohan Murjani when the company’s president, Warren Hirsh, suggested the idea of a denim line.
“He said, ‘Murjani’s, they’ve got all this denim fabric stored away in Hong Kong.’ So I said, ‘Why don’t we make jeans, a really great fit jean?'” Vanderbilt recalled.
At the company’s peak in 1980, it generated over $200 million in sales, according to the Associated Press.
The end of the Vanderbilt fortune?
It’s unclear how much of the fortune Vanderbilt inherited at 21 remains. Anderson Cooper has said on several occasions that he will not inherit any money from his mother.
“My mom’s made clear to me that there’s no trust fund. There’s none of that,” he told Howard Stern in April 2014. “[And] I don’t believe in inheriting money.”
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